In just a few days from now, NASA will oversee the final moments of its groundbreaking OSIRIS-REx mission, which marks the first time for the agency to bring back rock samples collected from a distant asteroid.
The space agency will live stream the homecoming of the capsule that’s carrying the all-important samples that were gathered from the Bennu asteroid in 2020. Read on to find out how to watch NASA’s broadcast on Sunday, September 24.
The spacecraft will release the capsule when it comes within 63,000 miles of Earth’s surface. Assuming the capsule lands intact and is safely recovered from the Utah desert, the asteroid material that it contains “will offer generations of scientists a window into the time when the sun and planets were forming about 4.5 billion years ago,” according to NASA, and could even shed light on how life on Earth began.
The mission has provided space fans with some breathtaking moments, including remarkably clear footage of the moment when the spacecraft landed on Bennu as the rock hurtled through space at 63,000 mph, more than 200 million miles from Earth.
Incredibly, after releasing the capsule, the spacecraft’s work will not be complete as it will then be redirected to study the Apophis asteroid during the rock’s flyby of Earth in 2029.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently hurtling toward Earth carrying a capsule containing samples collected from the Bennu asteroid. When the spacecraft nears our planet, it will release the capsule. In its final moments, the capsule will deploy a parachute and fall toward a landing zone in the Utah desert. Soon after reaching terra firma, a recovery team will pick it up and transport it to a temporary clean room.
NASA’s live stream tracking developments will start at 10 a.m. PT on Sunday, September 24.
A post-landing news conference will start at around 5 p.m. ET, at about the time the sample capsule arrives at the temporary clean room on the military range.